Spiritual Beggars: New Album Title Revealed
Guitarist Michael Amott (SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, ARCH ENEMY, CARCASS) recently talked to Taka Okuno from Japan’s leading metal magazine, Burrn!, and offered some insight into the new SPIRITUAL BEGGARS LP, revealing some songtitles and the album title. Michael also talked about the split with the previous SPIRITUAL BEGGARS singer vocalist Janne “J.B.” Christoffersson and the addition of J.B.‘s replacement, Apollo Papathanasio. An English-language translation of the interview follows below.
Burrn!: Why did [vocalist Janne “J.B.” Christoffersson] leave the band?
Michael Amott: “In recent years it has always been quite difficult to gather all members of SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, due to the members commitments to other groups (ARCH ENEMY, CARCASS, OPETH, GRAND MAGUS, FIREBIRD, etc.). Whenever we could found the time, myself and Ludwig [Witt, drums] would meet and try out my new ideas for SPIRITUAL BEGGARS songs. I had been planning to make a new SPIRITUAL BEGGARS album for a couple of years now and J.B. was always positive about it when we discussed it. But when we finally booked the studio time and became more serious about creating the follow-up to ‘Demons’ (2005), J.B. had become increasingly concerned with clashing schedules with his own band, GRAND MAGUS. Of course, we were saddened by J.B.‘s decision to leave SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, but we understand his position. The rest of us felt the new songs deserved to be recorded and heard by our fans, so we agreed that we wanted to make a new record and create the next chapter in the SPIRITUAL BEGGARS story! So our search for a new singer began… The rest of the lineup remains same since the ‘Demons’ record.”
Burrn!: Are the SPIRITUAL BEGGARS camp and J.B. are getting along with each other? Are you guys still good friends, no fight, no quarrel at all?
Michael Amott: “No, no fighting! We remain on very friendly terms with J.B. and I personally count J.B. as one one my closest friends.”
Burrn!: Please introduce your new singer.
Michael Amott: “Our new singer is Apollo Papathanasio. He is local singer from the area that myself and Ludwig live in. I have known Apollo for a few years and we actually worked together briefly before when he recorded some backing vocals on ARCH ENEMY‘s ‘Doomsday Machine’ album in 2005. Apollo is mostly known for his work with the Greek metal band FIREWIND. Our drummer, Ludwig Witt, has played for many years in bar bands doing covers with Apollo and Ludwig suggested Apollo for SPIRITUAL BEGGARS.”
Burrn!: Tell us about his musical influences/inspirations. Is he a fan of old hard rock music like SABBATH, PURPLE, ZEPPELIN, MOUNTAIN, URIAH HEEP, etc. etc.?
Michael Amott: “Yes, Apollo‘s influences are very much rooted in the classic rock and metal of the ’70s and ’80s. He is the same age as the rest of us in SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, so we instantly shared a lot of common ground musically, and he really connected with the songs and delivered emotional vocals that really impressed us all.”
Burrn!: Is his voice/tone/singing similar to previous singers?
Michael Amott: “Apollo does share some similarities with our previous singers — a rough and raw style based in blues and hard rock. He also has influences from the classic metal of the Eighties. I was always aware of the fact that he is great singer. However, even I was surprised how well his voice fit SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, in the new and the old songs. Apollo is showing a range and depth on this album that I believe will both surprise and please the SPIRITUAL BEGGARS fans!”
Burrn!: Please tell me the progress of the new record. I remember you wrote it’s almost finished in your column. (Note: Michael Amott has been writing a monthly column for Burrn! magazine since 2003.)
Michael Amott: “Yes, that’s right! After a few months of hard work in the studio, I’m very pleased to say that the recording is completed and the album is currently being mixed by our producer Rickard Bengtsson at his new Sweetspot Studio facilities in the south of Sweden. We are putting the artwork together now and it’s looking spectacular!”
Burrn!: If possible, please name song titles, album title. And how does it sound compared to previous SPIRITUAL BEGGARS records?
Michael Amott: “We are calling the new album ‘Return To Zero’, and some of the songs are ‘Star Born’, ‘Lost In Yesterday’, ‘The Chaos Of Rebirth’, ‘We Are Free’, ‘Concrete Horizon’ — to name a few! The new album has a lot of the typical SPIRITUAL BEGGARS trademarks — it’s heavy rock with a ’70s atmosphere — but I also hear a definite progression and a deeper sense of melody in the songwriting and performances. It’s exactly the kind of record I wanted to make with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS in 2010!”
Burrn!: Do you have a message for the SPIRITUAL BEGGARS fans in Japan?
Michael Amott: “I’d like to thank our Japanese fans for all the supportive messages and for being so patient in waiting for new SPIRITUAL BEGGARS music! We are very proud and excited about the new music we have created together and we can’t wait for you to hear it and play live in Japan again soon!”